When you think of eating healthy do you ever think about eating more calories? Most people think that they need to limit calories to eat healthy, but this simply is not the case and can actually cause a lot of harm.
Your body needs enough calories to function. Every system of your body is dependent on the nutrients it gets through your food. When you don’t get the calories you need, your body will not function well, and you will start to have symptoms.
Unfortunately, our culture has glamorized low-calorie diets to the point that many people don’t even know what is normal anymore. In fact, many women are chronically undernourished without even being aware of it.
Are you one of these women? Let’s find out!
Not Eating Enough
Without enough calories your body will start to turn on itself to supply the need for nutrients and energy. Your body will tell you that you need more calories in all kinds of subtle ways. If you don't listen to the subtle symptoms, your body will begin to speak louder. Symptoms may include:
- loss of muscle
- slower metabolism
- lower quality of sleep
- decrease in energy
- irregular cycles
- increase in anxiety and depression
- hair loss
- gut issues (including stomach aches and bloating)
- symptoms of hypothyroidism (cold hands/feet, etc.)
- symptoms of adrenal fatigue (lightheaded, fatigue, body aches, etc.)
- weight gain (your body confuses lack of calories as a famine and holds on to everything possible.)
Since eating enough is so important and many women undereat without knowing it, I encourage you to follow the following steps to make sure your body is getting what it needs.
Calculate Your Total Daily Energy Expenditure (TDEE)
If you have followed me for a while, you know that I'm not a big fan of counting calories… BUT it can actually be an incredibly helpful exercise to do for a few days to make sure you are eating enough!
That's right- I find that SO MANY WOMEN are either intentionally restricting calories or don't even realize that they are eating WAY LESS than their body needs.
Plugging your information into a TDEE calculator to see what your approximate daily energy expenditure is can provide you with important information letting you know how many calories you need in a day. Many women (especially chronic dieters) are shocked to see how many calories this calculator says they need just to maintain their current weight.
Use a Cronometer for Just a Couple Days
Next, you will want to spend a few days tracking your food intake. I love cronometer for this because you will see your intake of calories, macronutrients, and a detailed micronutrient breakdown!
Many women focus on getting the “right” type of macronutrients, but the truth is that we need them all - carbs, fats, and protein. We also need enough micronutrients in our diets daily to function optimally.
Remember, this is not a lifestyle. We don't want to be tracking every day- but it is an exercise just to check out your status. I typically have people do it for 3 days. If your weekdays and weekends vary a ton, I would do 2 weekdays and one weekend day.
Let me know what you think of your results. Were you surprised to find out your TDEE? What changes would you like to make now that you have this information?